The new supervised consumption site in Lethbridge has been up and running for one week.
Officials say based on initial numbers and a handful of lifesaving situations, the site is already accomplishing its stated purpose.
“So far, we’ve seen 97 unique individuals register to use the site… for a total of 248 visits,” ARCHES executive director Stacey Bourque said on Wednesday. “The majority of those individuals have been here at least twice, some have been here five or more times which is really positive. We’ve reversed four overdoses as of this morning.”
In the last week-and-a-half, officials have responded to more that 50 drug overdoses in Lethbridge, with an additional 30 in the neighbouring Kainai First Nation.
But as the fight against the opioid crisis continues, there are signs the local centre is having an immediate impact in some problem areas.
“We’ve had positive feedback from a number of agencies in the downtown that have been struggling with public drug consumption or debris for the last little while,” Bourque said.
“We have found that there has been some reduction in the amount of users in the library, some of the negative users and the negative behaviour that may be happening there,” said Lethbridge Police Services Sgt. Robin Klassen. “Along with the post office and different areas in the downtown, they are seeing reductions.”
In addition to people using the site for supervised consumption, there has also been an interest in the other services the facility provides.
“Lots of people have indicated interest for attending detox or treatment, or connecting to a counsellor,” Bourque said. “Many are also accessing counselling in-house, so people are staying longer than the 10 to 15 minutes.”
The site also offers nursing services, housing support, HIV and hepatitis C supports, as well as outreach and harm reduction supplies.
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